Anointing of the Sick

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The Anointing of the Sick, also known as "Extreme Unction" or "Healing," is a sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church, among others, in which oil is applied to the body of a seriously ill person by a priest while certain prayers are said by the priest and, if possible, participated in by the recipient of the sacrament. It can be combined with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the administering of the Holy Eucharist. If the person is administered all three sacraments in the belief that he is in danger of death, the term often used is "Last Rites."

The ceremony is based upon James 5:14–15 ("Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders[1] of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick man,....") which also recalls the anointing of Jesus Christ with perfumed or fragrant oil by Mary Magdalene shortly before Jesus's arrest, trial and execution;[2] also Mark 6:12-13 ("So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them."[3])

See also


  1. "elders"—The Greek word πρεσβυτέρους presbuteros "presbyter", often translated literally as "elder" is the root of the English word "priest". The Douay-Rheims translation of 1610 reads "let him bring in the priests of the church". See Etymology of "Priest" (
  2. Mt.26.6-13, Mk.14.3-11
  3. There is theological debate over whether this practice of the apostles of anointing the sick with oil before the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord is the same as the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, or only a prefigurement, as the Baptism of John for repentance was a prefigurement of the Sacrament of Christian Baptism.